Founders

armand-photo-150x188Armand Volkas,
Co-Founder and Clinical Director
MFT, RDT/BCT, (MFT #28789)
510.595.5500, Extension 11
armandvolkas@livingartscenter.org
Merry_Ross_150X189Merry Ross,
Co-Founder and Supervisor
MFT
510.420.1979
merry@merryross.com
Website: merryross.com

 

Armand Volkas is a psychotherapist and Registered Drama Therapist in private practice and Clinical Director of the Living Arts Counseling Center in Oakland, California, where he directs a training program for students, interns and therapists who want to integrate drama therapy into their practice. Drama Therapy uses acting improvisation and Psychodrama as therapeutic tools. He is a Board Certified Trainer in this discipline with The National Association for Drama Therapy. In addition, Armand is Associate Professor in the Counseling Psychology Program at California Institute of Integral Studies and Adjunct Professor at John F. Kennedy University. He has developed innovative programs using drama therapy and expressive arts therapies for social change, intercultural conflict resolution, reconciliation and intercultural communication.

Armand Volkas directs Healing the Wounds of History, a therapeutic approach in which theatre techniques are used to work with groups of participants from two cultures with a common legacy of violent conflict and historical trauma. Healing the Wounds of History has received international recognition for its work in bringing groups in conflict together: Germans and Jews; Palestinians and Israelis; Japanese, Chinese and Koreans; Armenians and Turks; African-Americans and European-Americans, to name a few. He is also Artistic Director of The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble. Playback Theatre transforms personal stories told by audience members into theatre pieces on the spot using movement, ritual, music and spoken improvisation. Sometimes a story becomes myth, sometimes a realistic enactment: some stories are tragic; others are funny or illuminating. The ensemble is in now in its 20th year of existence. At the heart of Armand’s work is a profound respect for the power of personal story to build bridges between people and cultures.

Merry Ross
I use my skills as a drama therapist to explore things creatively. I am a licensed Psychotherapist so I also do verbal therapy, but I prefer a more experiential approach. In my experience, when clients work creatively through drama or other arts modalities they begin to let go of intellectualizing and allow themselves to experience things on a more visceral level. Because of this, therapy often moves more quickly, and clients are able to see positive results sooner than if they had remained in a more verbal realm.

In my 17 years of working as a therapist I have worked with many populations. My therapy clients range from individuals who are experiencing severe depression, anxiety and grief to those looking to enhance their life and wanting things to feel a bit more juicy. I work with couples on all relationship issues. I work with adolescents with and without their parents and families. I have a vast experience with treating addiction including eating disorders and sexual addiction. My clients range in gender, race, ethnicity, socio economics, sexual orientation, age and others.

I use various approaches in my work including psychodynamic, in which we explore early experiences and feelings that might define present behavior. Cognitive behavioral, where we work at changing thoughts and behavior in order to make positive changes. Narrative, where it is the exploration of the story we tell ourselves that defines our experience, and by rewriting that story, we can experience healing. Family systems, an exploration of family roles and expectations that inform our relationships, and Psychodrama, where we act out personal dramas that often lead to catharsis and healing.

Adults: Depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, substance abuse issues, eating disorders, body image struggles, relationship issues and others.
Couples: Communication, sexual issues, addiction, abuse, parenting issues and others.
Adolescents: Depression, anxiety, social phobia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, relationships, trauma, substance abuse issues, grief, eating disorders, self injury, behavioral issues, self esteem and others.
Families: Grief, substance abuse issues, parenting, trauma, divorce/remarriage, trust and others.